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Malcolm X was a compelling public speaker, and was frequently sought after for quotations by the print media, radio, and television programs from around the world. In the years between his adoption of the Nation of Islam in 1952 and his split with the organization in 1964, he always espoused the Nation's teachings, including referring to whites as "devils" who had been created in a misguided breeding program by a black scientist, and predicting the inevitable (and imminent) return of blacks to their natural place at the top of the social order.
Malcolm X was soon seen as the second most influential leader of the movement, after Elijah Muhammad himself. He opened additional temples, including one in Philadelphia and was largely credited with increasing membership in the NOI from 500 in 1952 to 30,000 in 1963. He inspired the boxer Cassius Clay to join the Nation of Islam and change his name to Muhammad Ali.
By the summer of 1963, tension in the Nation of Islam reached a boiling point. Malcolm believed that Elijah Muhammad was jealous of his popularity. Malcolm viewed the March on Washington critically, unable to understand why black people were excited over a demonstration "run by whites in front of a statue of a president who has been dead for a hundred years and who didn't like us when he was alive."
Later in the year Malcolm delivered a speech as he regularly would. He stated that the violence that Kennedy had failed to stop had come around to claim his life. Most explosively, he then added that with his country origins, "Chickens coming home to roost never made me sad. It only made me glad."
This comment led to widespread public outcry and led to the Nation of Islam's publicly censuring Malcolm X. Although retaining his post and rank as minister, he was banned from public speaking for ninety days by Elijah Muhammad himself. Malcolm obeyed and kept silent.
At this point, Malcolm mostly adhered to the teachings of the Nation of Islam, but began modifying them, explicitly advocating political and economic black nationalism as opposed to the NOI's exclusivist religious nationalism
Malcolm publicly announced his break from the Nation of Islam on March 8, 1964 and the founding of the Muslim Mosque, Inc. on March 12, 1964.
Malcolm X was assassinated in New York City on February 21, 1965 on the first day of National Brotherhood Week.
During his life, Malcolm went from being a young street-wise Boston hoodlum to becoming one of the most prominent black nationalist leaders in the United States, and when murdered became considered by some as a martyr of Islam, and a champion of equality.
Malcolm went from being a young street-wise Boston hoodlum to becoming one of the most prominent black nationalist leaders in the United States, and when murdered became considered by some as a martyr of Islam, and a champion of equality.
As a militant leader, Malcolm X advocated black pride, economic self-reliance, and identity politics. He ultimately rose to become a world renowned African American/Pan-Africanist and human rights activist.